Four Essential Experiences
to Equip Your Kids for Life

Exasperated parents ask their children, "When are you ever going to grow up?" But rarely do today's young people even know what it means to grow up. In less than a century, we have moved from a society that never considered adolescence as a stage of life - or teenager as a word for that matter - to one that has created an artificial holding zone, denying children a necessary part of growing up.

Faced with the huge impact of cultural changes-boomerang kids returning home to live after college, adult children unable to support themselves, immature minds controlling physically mature bodies - parents today are asking themselves, What have I done wrong? Why can't my kids grow up? When will they become responsible adults?

Meanwhile, teens are wondering about the mixed signals - Am I an adult at sixteen when I can drive, at eighteen when I can vote, or at twenty-one when I can legally drink? But I can't even rent a car until twenty-five!

Long recognized as essential, rites of passage marked a person's transition from childhood to adulthood. Religious ceremonies, tribal rites, even employment or marriage historically served to draw that line - a line that is now blurred. Deprived of a balanced measure of responsibility and consequences, young people are developing false rites of passage - tattoos and piercings, gang membership, sexual promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse.


According to Jeremiah 6:16, God has designed each of us with "ancient paths". Because of this, there are four essential experiences that children need in order to properly mature:

Essential Experience #1 - Rites of Passage

Cultural shifts have led to the loss of a Rite of Passage - a clearly defined line that distinguishes childhood from adulthood. The false concept of the teenager has helped foster the idea that young people cannot make meaningful contributions to family life. A Rite of Passage event stops this misconception and enables a child to move smoothly into mature, responsible adult living.

Essential Experience #2 - Significant Tasks

We can help our kids move toward adulthood in a healthy way by assigning them significant tasks - special assignments that demonstrate an individual's worth to the people he considers important. As kids take on significant tasks, parents are gradually released from responsibility for their care. This eventually moves them from infancy (totally dependent) to adulthood (capable, responsible, and self-reliant).

Essential Experience #3 - Logical Consequences

Our shifting culture has removed logical consequences - predictable outcomes of an action - from our kids' lives. We can teach our kids to make wise choices by properly using logical consequences to build right values and right beliefs into their lives.

Essential Experience #4 - Grace Deposits

The cultural shift has left our children's lives lacking in "grace deposits" - statements or actions that communicate an individual's intrinsic worth in a way that he or she finds meaningful. This grace deficit leads to an inaccurate self-understanding of his God-given, unique attributes. Parents must develop a grace team that can consistently make a positive difference in a child'slife through words and actions that affirm, support, and build his true identity.

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